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FIDE Candidates R1G4: From Topa to bottom

5/8/2011 – It could hardly have been more dramatic, with Topalov in a must-need situation. He played a novelty on move five, and built a small edge, but nothing more. Kamsky blundered in time-trouble, and suddenly was dead lost. Possibly fantasizing of the tiebreaks, Topalov returned the favor and is now eliminated. Tiebreaks tomorrow! Report with video plus annotations by GM Alejandro Ramirez.
 

 
May 2011
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From 3 to 27 May 2011 the FIDE Candidates matches are being held in Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, with eight strong GMs competing to qualify as Challenger for the 2012 World Champion match. Time controls in the four regular games are 120 minutes for the first 40 moves, 60 minutes for the next 20 moves and then 15 minutes for the rest of the game, plus an additional 30 seconds per move starting from move 61. In case of a tie there will be four rapid chess games, and if the tie is still not broken then up to five two-game blitz matches 5'+3". Finally there may be a sudden-death final decider. The prize fund of the candidates is 500,000 Euros.
 

Scoreboard

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Levon Aronian
ARM
2808
½
½
½
½
       
2.0
 
Alexander Grischuk 
RUS
2747
½
½
½
½
       
2.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Vladimir Kramnik
RUS
2785
½
½
½
½
       
2.0
 
Teimour Radjabov 
AZE
2744
½
½
½
½
       
2.0
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Veselin Topalov
BUL
2775
½
0
½
½
       
1.5
 
Gata Kamsky
USA
2732
½
1
½
½
       
2.5
 

 
Nat.
Rtg
G1
G2
G3
G4
R1
R2
R3
R4
Tot.
Perf
Boris Gelfand
ISR
2733
½
½
1
½
       
2.5
 
Shak. Mamedyarov 
AZE
2772
½
½
0
½
       
1.5
 

Round one – Game four

To say that the last round was comprised of four draws would be to ignore the incredible drama that took place, as well as the extensive tiebreaks set for tomorrow. The first game of the day to end was Grischuk-Aronian that ended in a 17-move draw right when the game was starting to become interesting. Why Grischuk chose to eschew his White and settle for a tiebreak so easily is hard to say. It is true he was not better, but nor was he worse, and considering Aronian’s towering record at Monaco these last years, the Armenian’s favoritism would seem do only have increased.

The next game to end was Gelfand-Mamedyarov, and here things went a little differently. Gelfand was White, and by move 24 was not only up a pawn but had an excellent position. Add to this that Mamedyarov was no doubt still recovering from the nasty beating from yesterday, and the draw is not a big surprise.


Boris Gelfand with a comfortable position on his way to the semi-finals


The Israeli GM in the press conference after the match

Then came Kramnik-Radjabov. Once more Radjabov played a very unexpected opening: this time the Queen’s Gambit Declined. What is more, it is a line that Kramnik has played many times as both Black and White, but even so, he was unable to secure an advantage and the position became stale quite quickly. This means he will also be playing a rapid game tiebreak tomorrow, but here his favoritism is much less clear. Under normal circumstances, one would give him the obvious nod, but considering his recent disastrous result at Monaco, it is anyone’s guess how he will perform.


The spectators in Kazan, intensely watching the games projected with ChessBase


With headphones they can follow the comments of the GMs


A young lady who caught our eye in the audience

Finally, the game of the day was a fitting finish to the most exciting match of the first round: Topalov-Kamsky. Topalov was in an absolute must-win situation and he appeared inspired to show he was still in the game. On move five no less, he uncorked a novelty in the Gruenfeld that no serious database seems to have ever seen, whether tournament games or correspondence. Kamsky tried to keep it in somewhat familiar territory but the Bulgarian was out for vengeance as he applied maximum pressure. The timing of his blows seemed perfect as GM Ramirez explains below, and in time trouble the American blundered. Topalov was headed to a miraculous tiebreak… or so everyone thought. Right after the time-control, with an array of winning continuations at his disposal (a view shared by live commentator GM Daniel King), Topalov seemed to find the win hard to conclude, and with Kamsky refusing to give up, he faltered. A last mistake and he had to settle for a draw or risk even losing. Did he lower his guard after feeling assured of the win, as many thought, or was it much harder than it looked as GM Ramirez asserts below? Watch the game, read the notes, and form your own opinion.

The tiebreaks take place on Monday and are matches of four rapid games played at 25 minutes + 10 seconds/move increment. If the scores are still level then a two games at 5 minutes + 3 seconds/move will be played. Up to five such blitz matches can be played (10 games in all), and if there is till no winner a final armageddon game will be played at 5 minutes vs 4 minutes, whereupon, after the 60th move, both players shall receive an increment of 3 seconds per move as of move 61. In case of a draw the player with the black pieces is declared the winner.


Costa Rican/US grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez

Note also that GM Alejandro Ramirez’s notes to appear in the next issue of Chessbase Magazine are twice as detailed, including more extensive explanations.

Topalov,Veselin (2775) - Kamsky,Gata (2732) [A16]
FIDE Candidates 2011 Kazan, Russia (1.4), 08.05.2011 [Ramirez,Alejandro]

The Topalov-Kamsky match has been without a doubt the most exciting match in the first round of the Candidates. Of course, these great players would not let us down in the final game. 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Qc2








Topalov reveals a surprise as early as move five! 5. Qa4+ has been played thousands of times. 5...Bg7 6.e4 Nb6. This move allows Black to keep using familiar themes and strategies as opposed to radically changing the pawn structure and having to come up with ideas in a less familiar environment. 6...Nxc3 7.dxc3 This pawn structure is slightly better for White, as Black's bishop is quite passive (nothing a Gruenfeld player wants to hear about...). 7.d4 0-0 8.Be3 Bg4 9.Ne5. This is the other point of White's system. With the queen on c2, and out of harm's way, the knight can jump to e5 to control the g7 bishop. 9...Bxe5. 9...Be6 was worth considering, with the idea of c6 and N8d7 eventually. 10.dxe5 Nc6 11.h3 Be6 12.Rd1 Qc8 13.f4 Rd8 14.b3 Nb4 15.Rxd8+ Qxd8 16.Qb1 f5!? Maybe not the strongest move, but Black had to do something. At least now the position is getting opened while White's king remains in the center. 17.exf6 exf6 18.Be2 Qe7 19.0-0 Bf7 20.Bf2 Rd8 21.Rd1 Rxd1+ 22.Qxd1. The dust has cleared a little, as White has finished his development. Black hasn't achieved anything tangible, but at least his position remains solid and he has enough space for all his pieces as he has managed to take the rooks out of the game. 22...c5 23.Bf1 Nc6 24.g3 Kg7 25.Bg2 h5 26.Nb5 Nc8 27.Qd2. Black can now sit back and wait until White threatens a breakthrough, which may be now or in twenty moves, but Gata is just not that type of player. 27...c4 28.bxc4 Bxc4 29.Nd4 Qb4








30.Qc1! It is important to understand the power of this move. The queen is the last remaining heavy piece in the game, and without it White will not be able to generate a strong enough initiative to overwhelm his opponent. 30.Qxb4 Nxb4 31.a3 Nd3! And Black's pieces are just as active as their counterparts. Kamsky would very likely hold this endgame without any problem. 30...N8e7 31.a3 Qa4

32.Qb2. With every move White's position gains more and more strength. 32...b6








33.Kh2! An important prophylactic move. Remember king safety! 33...Kf7. Now White must find a way to strike. The game begins to heat up! 34.Qc3 Ba2








35.f5. And here it is. This move was played, in my opinion, at exactly the right time. With five moves to go it is still difficult to make time control considering that Gata only had one minute and thirty seconds at this point, while Topalov had a full eleven minutes. It is difficult to react to a challenging move with such a short amount of time. 35...Qc4 36.Qb2 Ne5 37.Qd2! g5 38.Ne6. Topalov has played a flawless game. His knight and queen will create deadly threats. 38...N7c6? 38...Bb3 , defending d1, is an extremely hard move to find, but might have been the only way to defend.








39.Qd6!+- The decisive penetration. Black simply does not have enough glue to keep his entire position together. 39...Ke8 40.Nc7+?! It is hard to criticize this move, as it seems to be extremely strong, and the computers like it. However Bd4 was cleaner, albeit much more difficult to find. The game now takes a very unexpected turn... 40...Kf7 41.Nd5 and f6 falls, as well as the game... or so it would seem!








41...Qe2! Kamsky does not give up! He sees that his only hope now is the somewhat weak position of White's bishops, which cannot move because they must stay to defend the king. Resourceful, but should be insufficient. 42.Qxf6+ Ke8.

White seems to be winning, but it is not so easy, and he might not even be winning at all now! 43.Qe6+ Kf8 44.Kg1?! 44.Qh6+ Kf7 45.Qf6+ Ke8 46.Qh8+ Kf7 47.Bg1 And now that the queen takes h5 with check against most Nf3+ variations, White should be winning. Although far from easily. 44...Qd1+








45.Bf1?? 45.Kh2! 45...Bxd5! Eliminating the knight is, of course, the first order of business. 46.exd5. 46.Qxd5 Qxd5 47.exd5 Ne7 48.Be2 Nxf5 49.Bxh5 Ke7 is not much better for White, as Black's knights miraculously control the White bishops. However, this position can be squeezed. 46...Nd4= The position is already drawn. White doesn't have enough resources to defend his own position, and he is missing a piece in the attack to finish off the Black king. Amazing! 47.Qf6+ Kg8 48.Qxg5+. 48.Bxd4 did not solve White's problems, as too many simplifications arise and his king is too weak. 48...Qxd4+ 49.Kh1 Qxd5+ 50.Bg2 Qd1+ 51.Kh2 Nf3+! 52.Bxf3 Qxf3 with a clear draw. 48...Kf7 49.Qd8








49...Qc2! The key move! The White king is completely controlled, and the threat is Ndf3+ followed by Ne1+, with a perpetual. 50.Bg2 Qc1+ 51.Kh2 Qc2 52.Bg1 Ndf3+ 53.Kh1 Ne1 54.Bf2 Qxf2

55.Qc7+ Kf6 56.Qd6+ Kf7. White is in time to give a perpetual and not lose, but that is all. 1/2-1/2.

Click to replay or download the PGN – you can also replay the game in this window.
Note that in the replay window below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

A fantastic struggle. It is easy to blame Topalov for not calculating properly or for breaking down nervously. It is easy to say this when you have a computer that is throwing numbers such as +3 and +4 after 42. Qxf6+. However, I challenge the readers to calculate that position with or without a computer! It is extremely complex, and Black's resources plentiful while White's continuation is unclear. In most cases in chess, the position is as natural as it seems. Black's weak king, pawn deficit, etc. seemed to clearly indicate he was easily lost, but that might not have been the case. Again, a fantastic save by the American grandmaster, but props to both players for providing us with unbelievably exciting chess.


Much head shaking by Topalov during the final press conference


The winner of round one: Gata Kamsky

About the author

Alejandro Ramirez is originally from Costa Rica, where, at the age of 14, he became the top player in the country. He is now pursuing a career in video game design and is currently on the verge of graduating with his Master's degree in Arts and Technology from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is also involved with the US Chess Federation.

Alejandro has been a grandmaster since the age of 15 and has played many Olympiads and a FIDE World Championship in 2004. He now mainly stays active by playing in the US Open Circuit.


Gelfand,Boris (2733) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2772) [A43]
WCh Candidates Kazan/Tatarstan/Russia (1.4), 08.05.2011
1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e4 d6 5.Bb5+ Nbd7 6.a4 Bg7 7.Nf3 a6 8.Bc4 h6 9.0-0 g5 10.Be2 Qc7 11.a5 Nf8 12.Nd2 Ng6 13.Nc4 Bd7 14.Nb6 Rd8 15.Be3 e5 16.Nxd7 Qxd7 17.f3 Ke7 18.Na4 h5 19.Nb6 Qc7 20.Bxg5 Bh6 21.Bxf6+ Kxf6 22.g3 Rdg8 23.Kh1 Ke7 24.Ra3 Rg7 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Kramnik,Vladimir (2790) - Radjabov,Teimour (2744) [D37]
WCh Candidates Kazan/Tatarstan/Russia (1.4), 08.05.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bf4 0-0 6.e3 Nbd7 7.a3 c5 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.dxc5 Nxc5 11.Be5 Bf6 12.Be2 Bxe5 13.Nxe5 Be6 14.Nf3 Qb6 15.Qd4 Rfc8 16.0-0 Nb3 17.Qxb6 axb6 18.Rab1 Bf5 19.Rbd1 Rc2 20.Rxd5 Rxb2 21.Re1 Be6 22.Rb5 Rxa3 23.Rxb6 Raa2 24.Rxb7 g5 25.Bf1 h6 26.Nd4 Nxd4 27.Rxb2 Rxb2 28.exd4 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

Grischuk,Alexander (2747) - Aronian,Levon (2808) [D31]
WCh Candidates Kazan/Tatarstan/Russia (1.4), 08.05.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bf4 c6 6.e3 Bf5 7.Nge2 Nd7 8.Ng3 Bg6 9.Be2 Nb6 10.Rc1 Nf6 11.h4 h6 12.h5 Bh7 13.Bd3 Bxd3 14.Qxd3 0-0 15.Nf5 Re8 16.f3 Bf8 17.Kf2 1/2-1/2. [Click to replay]

In order to give you a taste of the Daily Video wrap-ups, here is the video with Danny King's show:

 
GM Danny King analyzing Topalov-Kamsky during his Daily Wrap-Up show on Playchess

Schedule

All games start at 15:00h local time – 13:00h Berlin/Paris, 07:00 New York (check your local time here)

Tuesday May 03 Arrival
Audio/video commentary
on Playchess
Wednesday May 04 Opening Ceremony
Thursday May 05 Round 1 Game 1 Jan Gustafsson wrap-up
Friday May 06 Round 1 Game 2 Sam Collins wrap-up
Saturday May 07 Round 1 Game 3 Daniel King live
Sunday May 08 Round 1 Game 4 Daniel King live

Monday

May 09 Round 1 Tiebreaks Sam Collins wrap-up
Tuesday May 10 Free day    
Wednesday May 11 Free day    
Thursday May 12 Round 2 Game 1 Sam Collins wrap-up
Friday May 13 Round 2 Game 2 Dejan Bojkov wrap-up
Saturday May 14 Round 2 Game 3 Sam Collins live
Sunday May 15 Round 2 Game 4 Daniel King live

Monday

May 16 Tiebreaks    
Tuesday May 17 Free day    
Wednesday May 18 Free day    
Thursday May 19 Round 3 Game 1 van Wely/Gustafsson   live
Friday May 20 Round 3 Game 2 Dejan Bojkov live
Saturday May 21 Round 3 Game 3 Sam Collins live
Sunday May 22 Free day    

Monday

May 23 Round 3 Game 4 Loek van Wely live
Tuesday May 24 Round 3 Game 5 Daniel King live
Wednesday May 25 Round 3 Game 6 Daniel King live
Thursday May 26 Tiebreaks, closing    
Friday May 27 Departure    

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